Teen Window Mosaic Art Program!

Finished from the outside!

Last week Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and while it would be great to say that I had an amazing, multicultural, history-filled program planned, I really just used the day off of school to get teens to the library.

The previous year, the teen librarian had them do Post-It Art on the big windows in the teen room.  I probably would have stolen that idea again, but I thought I’d give the teens a bit more agency in design.  Inspired by this home-based art project, I wanted to get the teens to COVER the windows with tissue paper.

We decided at January’s Teen Library Council to make our design an explosion of fandoms – the Deathly Hallows symbol, the Mockingjay pin, 221B Baker Street, the black & white clouds from The Fault in Our Stars, symbols from Star Wars, manga, Narnia, and anything else we could think of.

Teens working on the windows

Teens working on the windows

Supplies

  • Print-outs of the source material (all of the above)
  • Small cups/bowls (we used ice cream bowls) and foam brushes
  • Watered-down Elmer’s glue
  • Tissue paper
  • Window markers (optional)

Process

We used some window markers that I already had to draw designs on the window.  Then you just use a foam brush to paint on some watered-down glue and apply the tissue paper.  I recommended that they cut/tear up small-ish pieces (like, the size of a business card or smaller).  The tissue paper has a tendency to NOT do what you expect, so trying for anything precise is not worth your time.  The unfortunate result of using the window markers was that the ink started coloring the glue.  Also, I should have told them not to press so hard on the brushes – sometimes the glue ran down the windows in streaks.

Teens making window art!

Teens making window art!

The Eye of Sauron, a Yin-Yan, a Star Trek pin, and something from a favorite manga

The Eye of Sauron, a Yin-Yan, a Star Trek pin, and something from a favorite manga

Deathly Hallows

Deathly Hallows

221B from "Sherlock" and an Imperial crest from Star Wars (I think?)

221B from “Sherlock” and an Imperial crest from Star Wars (I think?)

I LOVE these clouds!  From "The Fault in Our Stars"

I LOVE these clouds! From “The Fault in Our Stars”

This program was a great success!  I had 12 teens show up (that’s a lot for our library!) with the promise of donuts and hot chocolate.  Once the donuts were gone, they were gone, and we have a big can of hot chocolate mix.  And the teens had a lot of fun.  I think this program was a success, because 1) everyone basically got to pick their own design, 2) I promised donuts, and 3) this is a sneaky art project.  If I told the teens to just PAINT the windows, they’d say, “but I can’t paint.”  This way, they just had to draw an outline and fill it in with tissue paper.  Also, the teens got to climb on the couches without shoes, which they thought was just the best.  Maybe not the cleanest or efficient of art, but it was definitely fun!

Mockingjay, made by me

Mockingjay, made by me

Halfway through, I noticed no one had done the Mockingjay symbol, so I took care of that.

I love seeing the finished project.  It’s not quite like how I envisioned the windows – I thought the whole window would be covered with tissue paper – but I love it because it’s the teens’ work and not mine (other than the Mockingjay).

All in all, a great public art project for teens.  Use any windows in your library!  Make it a recurring program, where they add new pieces all the time (I’m hoping to add a TARDIS to our windows).  Very easy prep, and it always looks great.

Finished from the inside!

Finished from the inside!

Finished from the outside!

Finished from the outside!

Announcing The Great Potter Reread of 2014!

HPGR7-harry-potter-griffyndor-front (2)

It’s hard to believe that 7 years have passed since the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but alas, it’s true!  Makes me feel old.  My friends and I were in college in 2007, so we went to the midnight release party at Barnes & Noble, OF COURSE.  I absolutely forbade my friend Maggie from starting the book as I sped drove us home.  I remember staying up until 7am reading, then my body had had enough.  I woke up later that afternoon to finish the book and go to see a production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.  Turns out Maggie – a MUCH faster reader than I! – finished the book that morning and slept through our date to the show!  I’m still a bit miffed about that, Maggie dear. ;-)

I’ve recently been feeling like I wanted to reread all 7 books in order, but when I realized that 2014 marked the 7 year anniversary, I had to make it official!  I connected with another librarian friend online who was doing the same thing, and BOOM, it’s now A THING.

I’m happy to announce The Great Potter Reread of 2014!  Interested in joining our adventure?  Read along with us!  It’s very casual, everyone can go at their own pace.  Some of us have already started, some of us have yet to start.  Some plan to finish by July, but you don’t have to finish until December.  If you’re updating online, be sure to use #GreatPotterReread2014!  We’ll be updating on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.  And pass it on!

Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang

Every war has two sides.

Boxers by Gene Luen Yang

Boxers by Gene Luen Yang

Accomplished graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang tackles the Boxer Rebellion in his new pair of books, Boxers & Saints.  The books are physically separate, but should really be treated as one story.  Boxers begins with Little Bao growing up in rural China.  He loves seeing opera performed in the village square and idolizes his father.  When a group of men, callously operating under the protection of Christian missionaries, badly beat his father and leave him broken, Little Bao finds a well of righteous anger within himself.  After training under a martial arts master and a mystic, Bao (now a young man) gathers other men and women to fight the “Christian devils” and their corrupting influence on China.  Bao and his followers learn to channel the spirits of Chinese heroes and gods in their fighting, which fills the pages of this graphic novel with bold color and lines.  Although he tries to act with honor and mercy, Bao is faced with decisions that force his hand to violence.

Saints by Gene Luen Yang

Saints by Gene Luen Yang

To tell the other side of this story, Yang introduces readers to Four-Girl in Saints (though we’ve caught glimpses of her in the first volume).  Four-Girl is the outcast of her family, not even given a proper name other than her birth order.  She resigns herself to the hand life has dealt her and vows to be the worst devil that she can possibly be.  After hearing her mother call the local Christian doctor a devil, Four-Girl goes to him for training without realizing this will mean Christian catechesis.  Four-Girl falls into Christianity rather than chooses it, but it is there that she makes a home.  Her brief visions of Joan of Arc (not yet a saint at the time) propel her to virtue instead of self-service.

The effect these books had on me was so much more than I anticipated.  I’m already a huge fan of Yang’s work and had the pleasure of hearing him speak live.  I’m predisposed to like Boxers & Saints.  But I think this is a pair of books that everyone should read.

In particular, I think this is a pair of books that every Christian should read.

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Attack on Titan, or The Progression of Following a Trend

Shingeki no Kyojin manga, vol. 1, translated as Attack on Titan

Shingeki no Kyojin manga, vol. 1, translated as Attack on Titan

If you’re not already plugged in to anime or manga communities on the web, the title Attack on Titan probably means nothing to you.  But let me tell you, it is hott. stuff.

I first heard about AoT from PBS Idea Channel (a truly FABULOUS YouTube channel, even if it’s a bit far-fetched at times).  It’s a manga series turned into an anime set in a world where humanity has been driven into seclusion by brainless giants called titans intent on eating people.  The story centers on three main characters – Eren, Mikasa, and Armin – with a healthy supporting cast.  Major themes explore humanity’s forced imprisonment (the bird-in-a-cage metaphor does not go unnoticed) and what the characters are willing to sacrifice to beat the titans – even their own humanity.

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ZOMBIES: my first ever teen program

Nerf gun arsenal

When I took over my current position, I also inherited a few planned programs.  “Planned” – meaning “on the calendar”, NOT “detailed in an agenda or lesson plan.”  I certainly can’t fault my predecessor for that; I haven’t “plan” planned most of my programs ahead of time either.

One such program (about which I was very vocally excited on Facebook) was Zombie Survival Training.  There’s sooooo much you could do with zombies as a topic – how could I narrow it down to fit in an hour and not drive myself crazy?  Zombie snacks, zombie felties, zombie make-up… where could I stop??

A very wise colleague advised me to focus on the “survival” part of the title, rather than the “zombie” part, and to limit myself to about 4 activities.

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Books I’ve Read – 2013

2013 reading

How shocked I was when my Goodreads account said I had read over 50 books in 2013!  I often say that I’m a slow reader (compared to my bookish friends, anyway), but I guess I’m a determined reader!  Just for fun, here are my books of 2013, broken into categories.  I would provide links to all of them, but I’ll just link to my Goodreads account.

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LOTS of New!

Well, it’s embarrassing, but I did it again.  I made a blog and then left it to wither.

Poor little blog…

But – BUT – the leaving was not entirely out of neglect!  My state in life has dramatically changed since I left you last, mainly because of two factors.

  1. I got a new job!
  2. I moved in with a family in Madison whom I’ve known for years – they have 5 children under 9.

I’m now the Teen Librarian at the Fitchburg Public Library just outside of Madison.  The position is half-time, which should have left lots of time for blogging, but now I live with children.  Parents reading this know exactly what I mean when I say that.  Time just vanishes.  And then there was the basic element of making my stuff fit a new space.  My nomad life may be over for now, but another move is in my distant future.

With all that new-found direction to my life, I knew that the look I had on this blog was all wrong.  My crafts, program descriptions, and book reviews will be decidedly teen-focused.  I’ve gathered a few things to say in the two months I’ve been working, so look forward to those!  I am bound and determined to make this blog a thing.